Millions of smokers in Beijing have seven months to quit their habit. Beijing's municipal government has banned smoking in all indoor public areas, work places, and public transportation. The measure takes effect on June 1, 2015. The new law has a great impact because there are about 4 million smokers in Beijing. Will the ban work, and how will the new law affect the rest of China?

The new law adds on to a previous law that already bans smoking in kindergartens, elementary schools, women and children's hospitals, and sports venues. It also bans tobacco advertising outdoors and from magazines, radio, television, films, newspapers and books, according to Chinese news media. 

It's been estimated that there are more than 300 million smokers in China, and 740 million people are exposed to second-hand smoke every year. These are staggering numbers to face for public health concerns. No wonder the World Health Organization (WHO) welcomes the news on the ban.

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As the maximum fine for violators is only up to 200 yuan (US$32.50), it's hard to say now if the new law carries enough "teeth." However, it shows an emerging trend that China is doing something to curb smoking and its negative effects. Beijing is actually the third city to ban smoking, coming after Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Although it has been a custom or etiquette to offer cigarettes to friends and guests, attitudes towards smoking have been changing with growing awareness, especially in major cities.

Ironically, the biggest opposition may come from the government itself, as the state-owned China National Tobacco Corporation has a virtual monopoly on tobacco sales.

(photo: xinhuanet)